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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Non-violent protest is a spiritual stance

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The Ballina Region for Refugees were part of a nationwide event on the weekend – a 5-kilometre fundraising walk on a drizzly, grey Sunday, but with spirits undampened. 

The history of evolving progressive democracy(s) reveals advancement of same when civil societies/disenfranchised communities etc challenge unjust laws by acts of direct civil disobedience.

No conscious protestor/earth protector wishes to achieve justice by mirroring the brutality of the state; hence the application of the ethics and principles that govern direct non-violent direct action can be seen in modern resistance movements such as Bentley. The desired outcome is to educate politicians, change the law and achieve life-sustaining morals/systems that are upheld in the rule of law. Respect for all and a positive legacy for future generations.

Ben Franklin (Nat MLC) is displaying political gullibility and social ignorance in his defence of the new anti-protest bill. In The Echo March 30 he states ‘..at the end of the day, the minister assured me that this is not about just normal decent protestors.’ What does he mean? There were no arrests at Bentley and many aged persons attended non-violent workshops for months before attending the protection stance for Bentley!

The philosophical/ethical role of non-violent protest guides many collective social actions. This philosophical/ethical social action was introduced the Indian Mahatma Ghandi when confronting the militarism of the English colonial empire. Citizens were unarmed and nevertheless killed for displaying conscience.

Non-violent intentions reveal a deep spiritual/social discipline that governs the individual’s behaviour. It is ethical and self regulating.

It underpinned the philosophy of the many women who demonstrated against militarism at Pine Gap in 1983. It was adopted by the Greenham Common women demonstrating In the UK as Cruise Missiles escalated in Europe. Indeed, these women were the recipients of Thatcher’s counter terrorist technologies. These refined policing technologies exist within Mike Baird’s government. Are we to expect that his government will use them if protectors are deigned by politicians and media outlets to be ‘terrorists’. These uncertain days reveal many possibilities.

Many elder/activists can personally vouch that non-violent protest/protection is a deep discipline that is deserving of wider social practice. Visiting Bentley was like experiencing a micro fully conscious society.

I congratulate the Greens for challenging this law in the High Court. It is hoped that the philosophy of non-violent direct action is acknowledged by the law.

Should politicians direct that the full force of the law be used against citizens with conscience they will deprive future generations a safe existence.

And therein lies the real crime.

Jo Faith, Newtown

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